Joel and me was prospectin’ for plastic at the old town dump when it happened.
“Ow!” Joel yelled.
“What happened?” I yelled back.
“Something jabbed me.”
“Are you bleedin’?”
“Of course I’m bleedin’, you idiot.”
I didn’t pay any mind his insult. We was always callin’ each other morons and dipshits and worse things. “Hold on. I’m comin’ over.”
I climbed over a mound a junk to where he was. He showed me his arm. There was a hole in his forearm the color of rust and blood all run together.
“Damn, Joel. How the hell did you do that?”
“I was just tryin’ to pull out a plastic truck when everything slid. A bunch a junk almost buried me.”
“Lemmie get some water.”
I went to the buggy and brought over a couple a glass bottles that we’d brung along, and I poured one out over his arm. It kept right on bleedin’, like he’d sprung a leak. I ripped a sleeve off my shirt and doubled it up around his arm so it was tight. The bleeding seemed to slow.
“We’d better get home,” I said.
“I’ll be ok.”
“Yeah, I’m sure. Help me get this old truck out of here. It outta be worth somethin’.”
I guess I shouldn’t of listened to him.
We brung home a good haul, but Ma went nuke over Joel’s arm. She hauled me out the back door where he couldn’t hear.
“Tyler, that’s a bad wound. You should of brought him home as soon as it happened.”
I shifted under her stare. “I’ll take him on over to the doctor, then.”
“The town doctor moved away, Tyler. We ain’t got one anymore.”
I scratched my head, worried all of a sudden. “Well, maybe he’ll be ok.”
“He won’t be, not with all that rust in him. He needs a shot.”
“Yeah, there’s this shot we used to be able to get. Kept you from gettin’ blood poisoning.”
I got a shiver at the notion of blood poisoning. “Well, what’r we gonna do?”
“You’re gonna take him to the city.”
She turned and hustled back into the house. I followed her.
“Where I use to get my treatments. You should be able to get him a shot there. You remember how to get there?”
Ma had the cancer, but by this time, she had it beat. The cancer had gone remishin. I didn’t know what that meant, ‘cept that Ma was mostly back to her ole self.
“Well sure,” I said. “The hospital’s right near the innerstate.”
“That’s right.” She started grabbin’ some plastic cards from the kitchen desk. She flipped through them and pulled out a couple. “Here’s Joel’s medical card. It used to be good. If that don’t work, use this credit card. Your Pa’s kept it up in case of a ‘mergency. Just sign Pa’s name.”
I took it. “What if they want cash?”
She went to Pa’s study and used a key on her chain to open a drawer in his desk. She counted out a wad of money. “Here’s five thousand dollars.” I goggled at it. It wasn’t a huge amount, but a lot more than I was used to seeing all in one place. She handed it to me “It might not be enough,” she said.
“For one little shot?”
“Well, you may have to use the black market.”
“The black market?”
“Yeah, but don’t get taken in by a huckster.”
I scratched my head again. Everything was movin’ so fast. And why was she heapin’ this on me? “How am I to know the diffrence?”
“Just use your head. You ain’t no fool. If somethin’ sounds too good, it probly is. This shot’s gonna be expensive; so don’t fall for no hot deals. You don’t want them shooting just anything into Joel’s arm.”
I felt an awful chill. “No, ma’am.”
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